A CURSE FOR TRUE LOVE

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 3

Frustratingly slow and lacking in magical wonder.

Despite living her happily-ever-after, Evangeline can’t help but strive to recover her lost memories in this trilogy closer.

Evangeline Fox awakens in the strong arms of Prince Apollo, her apparent husband, who swears to protect her from the evil Lord Jacks, who stole her memories. Unfortunately, Evangeline remembers nothing of her long and complex journey in the Magnificent North or her past romances; only the pain in her heart lets her know something is missing. At Wolf Hall, Evangeline seeks ways to unlock her missing memories, including enlisting the help of a mysterious guard named Archer, even as Apollo’s behavior becomes more and more controlling. The pacing and plot feel stagnant at first, with Evangeline remembering things in flashes and moments of brief feelings, but things finally pick up once her memories return. With the point of view rotating among Evangeline, Apollo, and Jacks, there are few narrative surprises, but it’s intriguing to delve into the minds of an antagonist and a Fate. The story’s inclusion of the legendary Valors and the fantastical fairy-tale setting are unfortunately overshadowed by the love triangle’s dramatic tug-of-war romance. Likewise, the book’s various themes—power, hope, stories, and the nature of humanity—are of interest but handled in an unfocused way. The conclusion, at least, is satisfying, and it hints at future tales set in this world. Evangeline, Jacks, and Archer read white; Apollo has dark hair and olive skin.

Frustratingly slow and lacking in magical wonder. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781250851208

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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